Carpet grass is a prostrate, creeping, herbaceous perennial, only a few inches high, which forms dense mats in damp soil and on river banks. It spreads rapidly by means of “runners,“ and is of great value in preventing the erosion of sandy land, and is, in consequence, known as a “sand-hinder.” It belongs to the verbena family, or Verbeniaceae, which also includes the garden verbena. Common carpet grass is widely distributed in the warmer regions of North America, extending from Central America and the West Indies to Florida, Georgia, and Texas. It is very abundant in Sutter County, and in the Sacramento River Valley, where it produces a large amount of honey, and blooms from May until September. In Texas carpet grass grows along rivers and small streams, but is of little importance as a honey plant.
The carpet grasses, of which there are about 100 species, belong chiefly to the warmer regions of the Old and the New World, but are most abundant in tropical and sub-tropical America. They yield nectar in Central America, and are also valuable honey plants in the West Indies and the Bermudas. There are about 9 species in the United States, distributed over an area extending from New Jersey to Nebraska and Kansas, southward to Georgia and Texas, and westward to Arizona and California.
In 1900 Lippia repens was introduced from Italy into California, where it now covers thousands of acres. Because of its thickly matted growth it is widely used for covering lawns and tennis courts. Only one or two cuttings are required during the summer. It thrives in the poorest soils, smothers weeds, requires but little water, and looks as well as any grass; but during the winter it turns brown and ceases to grow, a new growth appearing in early spring. The small flowers are visited by many honeybees, and probably the honey does not differ from that of the common carpet grass. Also called fog-fruit and mate grass. (Fig. 36A.)
CARROT (Daucus Carota). — Introduced from Europe, this weed is often very abundant in worn or neglected fields and by the roadsides throughout the eastern states. It is steadily increasing, and in localities where, ten years ago, it was rare, it is now common, as in pastures along the lower course of the Missouri River. The small white flowers are in umbels often with a single purple flower in the center. In the Sacramento Valley, California, it is an excellent honey plant, yielding a white honey, with the flavor of the foliage, which granulates in a few months. In the eastern states this species, known as “wild carrot,” is a noxious weed. It yields nectar about once in ten years, but usually it is of no value.
CASSIA. — Herbs, shrubs, and trees with pinnate leaves and nearly regular, often yellow, flowers, which are nectarless and usually scentless. About 25 species occur in this country, but they are very abundant in tropical America. The flowers are visited chiefly by bees, and furnish only pollen. But there are extra-floral nectaries, as in the partridge-pea, wild senna, and coffee-senna, which are the source of a great quantity of honey. See Partridge-pea.
CATALPA (Catalpa speciosa) . — A large tree growing in Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas, and extensively planted for timber in the North. The clustered bellshaped flowers are nearly white, and so large that honeybees can easily reach the nectar, which can bo seen at the bottom of the flower. Reported to be a good honey plant in localities. (Fig. 37.)
CATNIP (Nepeta Cataria). — The veteran beekeeper, Moses Quinby, once said that, if he were to grow any plant extensively for honey, it would be catnip. Several have grown it in small plots, and have reported that, in a state of cultivation, it apparently yields more honey than in its wild state. The flowers are two-lipped, white spotted with purple, and are very attractive to bees. (Fig. 38.)
CATSCLAW (Acacia Greggii). — Also called Paradise flower and devil’s claws. This species blooms twice a year, the first flow coming in April and the second in July. The dense, thorny vegetation of southern Texas secretes nectar better in a dry than in a wet season, as too much rain causes the bloom to fall from the stems.